Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in two landmark cases that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to possess firearms, the Second Amendment Foundation has been confronting in court state and local rules which appear to be unconstitutional.
The activist group already has opposed “vague” gun bans in California, a $340 fee for owning a handgun in New York, New Jersey’s arbitrary gun laws, District of Columbia bans, Maryland’s permit demands and more.
Its latest victory has come in Arkansas, where a federal judge ruled the state’s concealed carry licensing law that bans legal resident aliens from obtaining permits is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks, for the Western District of Arkansas, ordered the state to pay SAF $10,000 in attorney’s fees and court costs of $726.41. SAF and Martin Pot (pronounced Pote), a citizen of the Netherlands, were represented by attorney David Sigale of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
The lawsuit, filed last November, challenged the Arkansas statute, because it “completely prohibits resident legal aliens from the concealed carry of guns, in public, for the purpose of self-defense.”
Col. Stan Witt, director of the Arkansas State Police, was named as the defendant in his official capacity.
“This is yet another victory in our effort to expand Second Amendment protections in the United States,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb on Monday. “Mr. Pot is a law-abiding resident of Eureka Springs, and has been so since 1986. He is self-employed and is a productive member of the community, with an American-born wife and family. He came here almost 30 years ago, met and married his wife, and has many solid connections in his community.”
Arkansas law did allow Pot to have a firearm in his home and on his property. But he was banned from carrying concealed.
“This case is not unique,” Gottlieb noted. “SAF has successfully challenged other state laws, in New Mexico, Washington, Nebraska and Massachusetts. Legal resident aliens should not be penalized at the expense of their self-defense rights. This was a good outcome to a case that should help lots of people.”
The organization, the nation’s oldest and largest focusing on the Second Amendment, has more than 650,000 members and has been working, largely under the radar, for firearms rights.
It recently won a New Mexico case, where, as in Arkansas, legal resident aliens were banned from obtaining concealed carry permits.
It also fought in Alameda County, California, which changed its rules as three businessmen were trying to open a gun shop. The foundation successfully sued the county for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of the businessmen by wrongfully denying them permits to open a gun shop.
Other cases the SAF has handled:
SAF sued the state of California in a case in which a man twice was jailed and then cleared, because a state statute’s definition of “assault weapons” is so “vague and ambiguous.”
In New York, the organization has asked for a summary judgment that would strike New York City’s $340 triennial fee for just owning a handgun. The legal brief explains that under U.S. Supreme Court rulings “the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense is a part of the ‘core’ of the Second Amendment’s protections.”
The organization has sued New Jersey and officials and judges over procedures that allowed them to refuse firearms permits for a kidnap victim, a man who carries large amounts of cash for his business and a civilian FBI employee who fears attacks from radical Muslims. The permissions were denied on the grounds people had not shown a “justifiable need.” “Law-abiding New Jersey citizens have been arbitrarily deprived of their ability to defend themselves and their families for years under the state’s horribly crafted laws,” said an SAF spokesman. “The law grants uncontrolled discretion to police chiefs and other public officials to deny license applications even in cases where the applicant has shown a clear and present danger exists.”
SAF filed a case on behalf of an honorably discharged veteran of the Vietnam War and names as defendants Attorney General Eric Holder and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Jefferson Wayne Schrader. The question is whether the state of Maryland can deprive an individual of the right to possess a weapon over a misdemeanor. Schrader had been convicted of misdemeanor assault relating to a fight involving a man who previously had assaulted him in Annapolis. But he was denied the opportunity to receive a shotgun as a gift or to purchase a handgun for personal protection.
SAF filed a claim against Maryland for a man who alleged the state was violating the Second Amendment by refusing to renew his handgun permit. Raymond Woollard originally was issued a carry permit after a man broke into his home during a family event in 2002. Woollard’s permit was renewed in 2005 after the defendant in the case was released from prison. But state officials later refused to renew the permit, even though the intruder now lives some three miles from Woollard.
SAF sued Westchester County, N.Y., because officials there were requiring that residents have a “good cause” to ask for a handgun permit. The federal lawsuit alleges the requirement conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment establishes a personal right to “keep and bear arms.” Individual plaintiffs in the case are Alan Kachalsky and Christina Nikolov, both Westchester County residents whose permit applications were denied.
“Michael Bloomberg created this group to further his personal agenda of public disarmament,” Gottlieb explained at the time “But within the ranks of his organization, our research has found several politicians who have been convicted of various serious crimes, thus making it impossible for them to finish their terms.
“We discovered,” he said, “one mayor convicted of perjury and embezzlement, another who was convicted of attempted child molestation, and yet another who was convicted of assault and racketeering. There was one who was convicted on bribery, fraud and money laundering, and another who was convicted of domestic violence.
“In short,” Gottlieb said, “many of these elitist politicians can no longer own firearms. The crimes they were convicted of suggest they are public enemies rather than public servants. No wonder they want to take guns from law-abiding citizens!”
Gottlieb said the research conducted by the foundation found “a far higher rate of criminal activity within the ranks of the MAIG than among the ranks of more than eight million citizens who are licensed to carry concealed firearms in 49 states.”
“While Michael Bloomberg has been campaigning to turn gun owners into criminals,” Gottlieb said, “the criminals in his own ranks were engaged in such activities as tax evasion , extortion, accepting bribes, child pornography, trademark counterfeiting and perjury. One was even convicted of assaulting a police officer.
“And these people have the audacity to smear law-abiding gun owners as potential criminals, simply because they exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” he concluded. “He should pay more attention to what his friends are up to than worry about the gun owners he’s been trying to demonize.”